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AKI MEGURIHISTORYTOKAIDOYAMATOSHIKOKU


 

Aki Meguri Old Tokaido Logbook:

September 9th, 2001 (Sunday):
From Hodogaya to Totsuka

Note: In the original Aki Meguri pages, the Old Tokaido stage had separate journal entries on most days.  These have now been added at the bottom of this page.

 
A new resolve: Anything before 12:00 noon is not "a late start."

This dilapidated old building has quite a history.  For the first time on this walk, I have seen a building that looks like an inn--on the site of an inn.  The gate is original; the building is a reproduction of the honjin (official inn) that used to stand here. Historical exhibits are inside.  (For other information on my visit to Hodogaya, see Friday's Logbook.)

The Hodogaya Station has a nice map posted of where the various establishments were located.  Inns, teahouses, sake shops, and other businesses catering to travelers made up most of the stations.

So for Hodogaya's signature (failing the homeless guy yesterday) I went into a liquor shop and got the signature of this man, Mr. Kunihiko Morita.  He's quite a character.  Though he didn't really communicate in English, he pulled out words like "pilgrim."  I hope he'll see this shot.

Now, When I heard that an ichi-ri-zuka (one ri mound, a ri being about 4 kilometers) was a mound of earth with a tree on it, I pictured a couple of feet of earth with a sapling.

THIS is an ichi-ri-zuka, the first I've seen (without a shrine on top).  The modern road coming down Gontazaka (the first allegedly "Difficult" place on the road) had clearly been lowered as it passed in front of it (this view is from the back).  But judging how far up I walked to see it, this thing is probably 3-4 meters high, and the crown is at least two meters across.  It would have been unmistakable, especially since they usually came in pairs (the other is across from this, but there's no way to get a shot of both together in this hilly terrain.)

Unmistakable.  I could have used some unmistakability, because I got thoroughly LOST today.  I mean, I knew where I was, but I didn't know where the road was.  I cast about for an hour, during which I thought, "Well, at least it isn't raining."  This was like the cue to the stagehands to dump a bucket of water on my head as WHAM! the sky opened up and hit me.  What could I do?  I laughed.

who am I to blow
against the wind--when it rains
I just let it rain

Finally back on the route, I was making pretty good time when a voice came from behind: "Moshi moshi."  A shop keeper had come out (on one of the quieter, side-road sections of the route) to chat about what I was doing.  He insisted on taking my picture.

He told me that in the hills nearby was a well where, in the Kamakura period, samurai used to wash the heads of their opponents after they cut them off (like the one at Sengakuji).  Later I saw that it was on my map, but off the beaten track.

In Hiroshige's day, the housemaids (and sometimes prostitutes) would come out of the teashops and inns and literally pull customers inside (see the print of Kanagawa).  As I approached this gas station, the girl was out front beckoning customers.  Times change, we don't.

A few other sights along the way:

 

I had heard there were cathouses on the Tokaido...
A typical house

This little guy lives at a temple on Gontazaka
A milestone between Totsuka (l) and Hodogaya (r)

You meet all kinds of pilgrims on the road...

.

This bridge crosses the river into Totsuka.  So did I--after 4:30!  No chance to push on today, so I took a break near Totsuka station.  The bridge has reproductions of Hiroshige's print on it.  I can see the resemblance; can you?  (But that may be the same hill out in the distance, to the left of the bridge.)

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Totsuka, Station #5 on the Old Tokaido

Travelers who left Edo in early morning spent the first night here in Totsuka.  It's 41 kilometers!  I guess they had more practice walking in what Ikku Jippensha called "footworn Yamato [Japan]."

Evening came.  I went off to pray at a small shrine, located behind the honjin monument (see tomorrow).  For the first time I have prayed at a Shinto shrine instead of a Buddhist temple.  This has created a few changes:

  • I dispensed with the Buddhist prayers.  Shinto is not a "theological" religion, and literary forms don't seem to apply.  So I practiced silence before proceeding to pray the requests aloud.

  • There will be no book signed.  Although some shrines provide this service, small house shrines like this one seldom do.  I will, however, provide a poetic offering to you in place of a signature tomorrow.

This is my last night at Tom and Yuka's; I'm booked tomorrow at a business ryokan in Chigasaki..  I can't thank them enough for the breathing space they've provided.  

 

Journal
Entry

Making Rain

In today's Logbook I wrote that, while lost, "I thought, 'Well, at least it isn't raining.'  This was like the cue to the stagehands to dump a bucket of water on my head as WHAM! the sky opened up and hit me."

Later, talking with Tom, I said that the majesty of it all never failed to astonish me.  I mean, think about it: what if human beings had to create a rainstorm?  How much would it cost to spread that much water over that much area for that much time?  We're in the midst of a string of typhoons here.  How much would it cost to reproduce that?

I once had a similar thought--only on a more human scale--at the Hollywood Bowl.  I was looking at the orchestra and wondering how many human-hours of practice it took to get this concert ready.  Then I started thinking about the years of practice required, and the sacrifices made.  Soon I turned to the audience, wondering how many hours of effort went into driving here, arranging for baby sitters, packing or buying picnic lunches, etc., etc., etc.

The amount of effort put into one evening's concert dwarfs my little walk.  And yet the typhoon comes with no effort at all.

Journal
Entry

Focus Point

Comedian Tim Conway once talked about his father's cure for toothache.  When Tim had a sore tooth, his father made him wear his little sister's shoes.  "That way," he said, "my feet hurt so much I didn't notice my tooth!"

You know what's coming next, don't you?

Yeah: My feet hurt.

But what's funny is, they hurt in different places than they did before.  Because of the rain, I'm walking in my tennies instead of my sandals.  And the tennies hit in different places.  So what was killing me in the sandals doesn't affect me now.  I have all new pains.

When  the sky opens up on me I forget about my feet entirely.  When my camera's slipping off my shoulder I forget about the rain.  And so on.

But this focus on one thing can work positively, too.  When I'm captivated by the song of a bird, or enthralled by a child's shy smile (I get a lot these days), or entranced by the sanctity of a temple--I forget about all my woes.

Maybe the secret is this: ac-cen-tu-ate the positive, e-li-mi-nate the negative, latch on to the affirmative.  If we fill our hearts and minds with what's good around us, there's no room left for what's bad.

This is a good intermediary step until we learn to transcend categories of "good" and "bad" and just see what is.  I wish I could learn to say, "My feet hurt.  This is neither good nor bad, it just is."  But I'm going to have to walk longer before I reach that stage--a lot longer.

 
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